Jamie Reid's horse-doping tome wins sports prize

Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:43pm EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - A 1960s British horse-doping scandal that reached into the royal stables, drew in the criminal underworld and included a Swiss femme fatale has won a top sports-writing prize and made author Jamie Reid a happy man.

Reid's "Doped: The Real Life Story of the 1960s Racehorse Doping Gang" was the winner on Wednesday night of the 25,000-pound ($40,700) William Hlll Sports Book of the Year Award, which the British bookmakers tout as the "richest and most prestigious sports-writing prize in the world".

Reid said he was "thrilled to bits" with the award for his book, which judges praised as "an absolutely thrilling read".

He said that literally overnight orders had come in from a big book chain, sales were up on Amazon and there was interest in television and film rights.

Reid's book tells the tale of crooked bookie Bill Roper ("Roper the Doper"), his glamorous Swiss mistress Micheline Lugeon and their scheme to fix horse races in the early 1960s.

Working from their Notting Hill headquarters in London, Roper and his gang made millions by modern standards. No horse in the country was safe from being "nobbled" (doped), and it was only when they breached the stable of the Queen Mother's trainer that Scotland Yard were called in. Roper and Lugeon both served time in jail.

Reid, who writes a column for the Financial Times, said the story was one of those cases of "truth being stranger than fiction".

He said he had learned when he was a boy about horseracing from his grandmother and had always recalled there was "something very suspicious" about the 1961 Epsom Derby in which highly favored three-year-old superstar Pinturischio did not run - leaving the proceeds in the hands of the bookies and creating a great opportunity for Roper and his gang.   Continued...